Walking your dog can have benefits for your own mental health
October was mental health month and we are now it’s December and we are heading at full speed towards Christmas (I know, there does the time go?!). Although Christmas is often a fun and favourite time for many people, it can also be incredibly busy and stressful. That coupled with the fact we have recently seen a big drop in temperature, meaning winter is definitely setting in, it can also be a time that our dog walks become shorter and less frequent.
It is super important that our canine friends continue to get their mental and physical needs met, despite the cold and wet. They still need to be able to express their natural behaviours and exercise. But it is also really good for us too and our mental health. To find out more about the benefits of getting out in nature, I spoke with hypnotherapist, Silvia Mather.
So why should we get out walking?
‘Exercise in general releases happy endorphins so that’s a major benefit . Even if it’s a walk and not a full on gym session, it still works. Getting out the house is a change in environment and a change of environment and anything that stops us staying in the same environment for too long is good for us. Staying in the house for too long can easily lead to over thinking especially if we are in the house alone. Over thinking can lead our minds to become overwhelmed and busy. When our minds are too busy they don’t work properly and we find it harder to concentrate, make decisions and think clearly, this can then lead on to increased worry, anxiety and depression. The walk gives you an opportunity to distract the mind away from any stress and worry. You can concentrate on the surroundings, your dog, the weather, anything really and this really helps to refocus the mind.’
What else can help us switch off from all the chaos?
‘Being outside on a walk with your dog gives you the chance to switch off from every day noise and distractions. Giving ourselves the permission to spend this time out away from our phones and work really helps to get rid of any urgency to get back or feel guilty for not doing whatever it is we think we should be doing. Taking a rest from our busy lives makes our minds work better so you are saving time not wasting time. When out notice the way you breath and breath with purpose. Slowing down our breathing helps us to decrease anxiety and stress levels so that also very beneficial. Distracting our minds and concentrating on what our dogs are doing, how they are running, what they are looking at is not only a nice way to spend time with them and engage in what they are doing, it also helps us to take notice of what is around us and again that is a perfect way to take us away from the stress of daily life.’
So what are you waiting for? Wrap up warm and get out walking!
Silvia Mather founded and runs Hummingbird Hypnotherapy based in Newcastle upon Tyne and the North East area. She is a member of the National Hypnotherapy Society and has 20 years of experience of helping individuals making positive changes.